Arts & Entertainment

Are game leaks good for release publicity?

‘The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom’ leak unveils mixed reactions among video game fans.

Photo by Nintendo | Art from “Tears of the Kingdom”

As of the release of this article, the new “Legend of Zelda” game is out! A sequel to the critically acclaimed and basically ubiquitous Switch title, “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” comes the much anticipated “The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.” I’ll admit, I’ve strayed away from spoilers best I can; I’m one of many fans who’ve been really looking forward to this game coming out.

The game gained plenty of hype and popularity before its release due to the marketing teaser trailers and slow release of information. However, the game was also leaked in its entirety a few weeks before launch, which really made the internet an unsafe zone for my spoiler-averse eyes.

There’s always some controversy with the ethics of game leaks; whether or not leaking is okay, or if company reactions are reasonable. Nintendo actually has quite the track record of their games getting leaked close to release after the game is finished, but just before they hit shelves. This is exactly what happened for “Tears of the Kingdom.”

“Physical copies that appear to have been sold ahead of the game’s May 12 release date began making the rounds over the weekend, with some of them popping up on reseller shops for hundreds of dollars. It wasn’t long before the files were dumped online and some players raced to pirate it and begin playing ahead of release,” says Timothy Geigner at, a game news site.

Photo by Rockstar Games | Leaks for “Grand Theft Auto 6” causes serious backlash for the company.

Most games facing leaks tend to have it pretty bad. The recent leak for Rockstar’s “Grand Theft Auto 6” was an absolute disaster and one of the largest leaks in video game history, with plenty of key assets and mechanics being released to the public. The game was expectedly in an extremely unfinished state, but some critics did not pay that any mind and tore apart anything they could.

For “Tears of the Kingdom,” on the other hand, the leaks really didn’t affect much. Due to the game being in its finished state when leaked, it would be hard to argue that the leaks did anything to impact the game’s publicity negatively; it already was going full steam ahead to markets. That being said, Nintendo was quick to crack down in a very Nintendo fashion: content strikes, DMCA takedowns and even some attempted legal action. 

In their purge of anything leak-related, Nintendo also took down tons of YouTube videos from content creators that weren’t even breaking the rules.

“It’s hard to become excited for Tears of the Kingdom when the Zelda community is being nuked off YouTube,” says @PointCrow, a Zelda-centric YouTube content creator.

Getting to a conclusive thought for these things is tricky; while the game leaking might not be so ethical itself, reactions from major companies tend to be filled with corporate malice– especially in Nintendo’s case. The leak situation didn’t really smooth over in the end, and Nintendo still has its ruthless eyes out for people breaking their rules. Regardless, if you decide to still pick the game up, “Tears of the Kingdom” is out for $70 on Nintendo Switch.